Eagle and serpent

explorations and philosophy: in the world, of the world

Month: November, 2008

Flares in the sky

Once again in the excellent Barbican… This time I saw ‘Waltz with Bashir’, an open account of a personal process told by a former soldier trying to remember what really happened during the infamous Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982.

The method of the movie earns some praise. An animation is always a daring solution, especially in handling controversial matters. On the other hand, it could be also easier this way, as shooting (interesting word in this context, right?) the film in a realist setting could be quite challenging. Where would one get the tanks and soldiers for the film, especially if the army and other security officials would see the film as detrimental to the national values?

Initially, my main interest in the movie was towards the historical events. This changed in the course of the film, however. Instead, I became intrigued by the psychoanalytic aspects of the movie. A person trying to remember happenings around a traumatic issue that are some twenty years old, raises major difficulties of the role of the individual and the constructiveness his own mind. What is false and what really happened? Perhaps most interestingly, the observer has to decide his stance towards himself, once he finally remembers.

Greeks and philologists

One can really spend a night after night in the vault of the excellent Gutenberg. One of Nietzsche’s not-so-well known writings, We Philologists, has a wonderful section (94) that uses a sort of ‘comparative analysis’ in assessing differences in views of knowledge, speech and life itself (with a slightly modified layout because of aesthetic considerations).


render homage to beauty (babblers and triflers),
develop the body (ugly-looking creatures),
speak clearly (stammerers),
are religious transfigurers of everyday occurrences (filthy pedants),
are listeners and observers (quibblers and scarecrows),
have an aptitude for the symbolical (unfitted for the symbolical),
are in full possession of their freedom as men (ardent slaves of the State),
can look innocently out into the world (Christians in disguise),
are the pessimists of thought (philistines).

If having to choose, which one would you be?

Coffee and elitism

After too long a while it’s nice to be back. And what would be more rewarding than to write about one’s passions, one of them being coffee!

Most of the legends and rumours about English food culture are simply not true; the restaurant scene is definitely among the most impressive ones that I have ever had the honour to witness. One thing keeps depressing me, however. It is the state of coffee drinking in this country.

As James Hoffmann eloquently discusses this in his blog, one of the main forms of ingesting coffee-like substances is instant (or put nicely, ‘soluble’) coffee. All this in a country that boasts of being the birthplace and inventor of tea-drinking, at least in the Old Continent!

Personally, I do not mind walking for ten minutes after lunch to get my hands on a decent espresso. Regrettably, I have not been able to find the same willingness in many of my peers. And to be honest, I have to admit that I was lucky enough to stumble upon one of the high quality outlets in town, Monmouth, already during the first days of my stay here. This, if anything, has contributed to my disposition of the status of drinking quality coffee in London.

The conclusive point Jim makes, however, is cultural, rather than a solely coffee-bound one. After all, England is not the only place in the world that has a cultural allergy towards snobbery. In the land of Father Christmas, bad pizzas and boorish manners nothing is judged worse than a person who is not willing to give in to the common ‘standards’. This being the case, the following quote from Jim goes to all of them in Ultima Thule that have been whining about my selective tastes:

I am a snob. I don’t want to drink something that tastes bad. I don’t want to eat something that tastes bad and will probably hasten my demise (I am looking at you Ronald McD.)

Bacon’s baboon

After a Sunday breakfast in Soho, it was time for get the culture portion of the week. Visiting Tate Britain to see the works of a famous Soho-dweller, Francis Bacon, can be something to remember. Not only the stunning carnality of his works, but the meta-style itself – combining ghostly and carnal, spiritual and essential – stays before one’s eyes even after leaving the exhibition.

Going beyond impressions, metaphysical agony can be sometimes found even in our everyday organisations. Or what do you think of his post-cc-taxpayer?

A subtlety that caught my eye was that Bacon named many of his works as ‘studies’. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the most ruthless of Bacon’s critics was Francis himself?


I did not intend to comment this special occasion of ours in any way, but I noticed I had a good reason — all my neighbours are away! What inspires me, however, is not the obvious possibility to speculate the winner, but rather the probable winner’s future policies.

This may be a bit cynical, but honestly, I do not believe that anything really changes. It may be that the average tax-payer inside the country might win a buck here and lose a buck there, but when it comes to foreign policy… The war machine is just too influential to allow anyone to interfere with the spreading of ‘liberty’. It will be very interesting to hear what kind of rhetoric the most hyped of the candidates, if elected, will use motivating future aggressions. “Yes we can?”

Another interesting phenomenon is that no-one seems to be interested in the state of democracy itself, but rather speculating the winner or fussing about meaningless blunders in the campaigns. No-one asks how is it possible that out of over 303 million inhabitants (according to CIA ‘factbook’), the good people can choose out of two? But hey, it’s about the show, isn’t it?

Turn it on and nibble your cracker, citizen, you live in the free world!